1. Copywriting

Eight Great Cures for Copywriter’s Block

We’ve all been there, right?

Whether you’re a copywriter yourself or a business owner needing to write copy for yourself from time to time, you’ve been there.

Your mind is racing with ideas when you’re not writing… but when you sit down, suddenly you just go straight to BLANK. Nasty, but what are you going to do when it just happens?

Writer's Block
Creative Commons License photo credit: alexkerhead

Without going into all the philosophy about writer’s block, does it exist, why does it happen, etc… here’s my list of proven things you can do to overcome it.

Some of them may sound surprising and seemingly not related to writing at all, so keep an open mind:

  1. WATCH AN EPIC MOVIE – Copywriting is all about creating a storyline that resonates with your audience, and produces the right kind of emotion and channels desire in a certain direction. When you relax and watch a great movie with not only great structure but also great emotional storytelling elements… you’re reminded of the bottom line: how to talk to your audience in a way that engages them, bonds them to your message, and ultimately gets them to act. After all, all great marketing is carefully crafted storytelling at its core. So which movies work for this purpose? Depends on your taste a bit, but often the ones with big, epic storylines or deeply human stories work best. Think Chinatown. Think the Lord of the Rings. Think Gladiator. And for goodness’ sake.. CRANK IT UP! 🙂
  2. LISTEN TO OUTSTANDING MUSIC – You know when you’re really ‘in the groove’ with your writing, there’s a certain rhythm to it.You feel this rhythm that’s particularly ‘right for you’ that brings out the best wordings, associations, and just general flow. One of the absolute best ways to get back into it is by reaching back into your favorite playlist that bring back that rhythm for you. If you don’t have such a playlist on your iTunes or Spotify, now’s a good time to start. These selections tend to be wildly personal for everyone, but to give you an example here are a few that work for me: 1. Human Nature by Michael Jackson (laugh if you want but copywriting is all about tuning in to human nature, and this master tune by MJ does the job just perfectly for me) 2. Woke Up This Morning by Alabama 3 (if you didn’t guess, yes that’s the theme song from Sopranos – just unbelievably great rhythm about this one that’s all!) 3. Finlandia by Jean Sibelius (gets me into a slightly nationalistic, emotional mood and helps me regain the big picture) 4. One Love by The Prodigy (a true throwback into the 1990’s but it gets me into battle mode flawlessly) 5. Practically anything by W.A. Mozart (actually proven to improve focus and concentration even with autistic kids). Now go create your own list!
  3. TAKE A HIKE. And I mean that literally. One of the easiest ways you can ease your way into the creative flow is by taking a nice, brisk, non-hurried walk. It doesn’t much matter whether you prefer to walk by window shopping or by going into the woods, or walk by the beach… as long as it works for you. The main thing that happens when you do this is you let your mind off the hook. You let your mind relax and wander aimlessly (in this case aimlessness is a GOOD thing), and your subconscious layers get a chance to realign with the conscious, and eventually let through some gems through the cracks. Even if you’re “not a walking person”, it works so just do it. I guarantee you it gets you back on track before you know it.
  4. GRAB A SPINE – the one on your latest unread novel, that is! Even if you’re writing copy, which is a mixture of the artistic and the scientific… it’s structured enough to stifle your brain once in a while if you’re not careful. So read something completely different, something that’s completely unstructured, unpredictable, and following its own rules. Read some Shakespeare, that always rattles the brain and enlivens the heart. Or go straight to the Bestseller lists and read something that’s been selling consistently for a good while. Why? Because that’s a sure sign that there’s SOMETHING that works for Joe Sixpack. And if it’s good enough for Joe Sixpack, unless you’re writing copy for nuclear reactors, it’s good enough for you as a marketer.
  5. BREAK AWAY – And I mean totally break away. Don’t even think of writing. Don’t so much as think that you’re taking a break from writing. Just put down the pen, shove away the keyboard, and do something different with your hands. That will ‘shake up’ your brain from going in circles (which it does when writer’s block hits) and exercise some other connections within your brain. Chop some wood. Do the laundry. Anything that you do with your hands but doesn’t particularly require thinking. It can be oddly relaxing, you’ll soon find…
  6. INDULGE IN GOSSIP – well, sort of anyway.  I don’t necessarily recommend hanging out at seedy gossip blogs or such, but taking a peek into gossip magazines… now that’s a different story. Why is that so different? It’s because online, breaking the story is what matters. Offline though, what matters is standing out at the newsstand! And that’s why the absolute best writers of headlines and compelling, even bizarrely compelling (even if sometimes fabricated) stories tend to be employed by the likes of the National Enquirer. So feed your brain with some genuine, grade A gossip juice to get your system going again!
  7. GET CURRENT! – If you’ve used one or more of the above and you’re starting to get back into the groove… but not quite getting an angle or thinking up a storm yet, then consider this. Break out today’s newspaper or magazine (if you have one), or break out your favorite news sites. Go over some of the hottest topics, just  see what’s going on without trying too forcibly to associate any of it with what you’re supposed to be writing about. If you do this without expectation and just follow your inner cues, before long you’ll undoubtedly land on something you can use, and play off of.
  8. BLOW CHUNKS… – When all else fails, just write small, even tiny chunks of something relevant to the work you’re supposed to be doing. It’s easier to get going when you’re not overly ambitious, just write something you can use, improve on, or at least use as a yardstick. Easier to eat the elephant bite by bite, right… as the bizarre saying goes.

So there you have it!

Eight proven ways to re-start, kick-start and plain wake up your writing ability in no time at all.

Try one, try them all… whatever works for you. Here’s to your blossoming writing moments!

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